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Vivid Light Photography, digital and film photography online
Two Little Bargains 
Two Must Have Items Under $10
by Vivid Light Staff

We'll be the first to admit that photography can be expensive, even more so because photographers like their toys. Tell a photographer that there's a new whiz bang gadget and they'll be pouring through catalogs and Web sites and drooling over it faster than you can say MasterCard.

That's why it does our hearts good when we find little gadgets that work really well and don't cost a heck of a lot.

The Flatpod FP-2 
We all know that tripods make better images. But they're big and bulky, a pain to carry around, and expensive as all get out "You want how much for three aluminum poles screwed together in the middle?!?"

That's why we were so struck by the diminutive flatpod from Hakuba. It weighs about the same as a roll of film and folds down small enough to fit into a front pocket of your camera bag. Now Hakuba says it's for pocket digital cameras but we found that the little sucker was able to hold a pro SLR with a medium telephoto zoom mounted.

Hakuba was giving these away as booth trinkets at PMA and we tried it out for the first time that night. We were surprised that it held an F100 and 28-105mm zoom easily for a wall mounted night shot. It makes a convenient little tabletop tripod and in a pinch can be used for macro work (though you should really put something under it). Since it's so small it hasn't left our camera bags since PMA. Besides it's kind of cool how it folds down perfectly flat.

We saved the best news for last. Since most of you aren't photojournalists who grabbed up freebies at PMA you'll be happy to know that this little gem only sells $3 !

Where to Find Them
We've gotten a lot of reader feedback that you're having trouble finding this tripod at J&R Music or Hunts. We can only guess that it has something to do with the price. Anyone in the camera department knows where to find an EOS 1v, but at $3 this is just one of dozens of small tripods on the shelf. Several of you have even written to tell us you were quoted $29.88 for the flatpod (evidently it's being confused with another Hakuba model), It's also difficult to find on either of their Web sites because of the way it's indexed. So to end all the confusion we're including the links. Just click on the link below and it will take you right to the flatpod & the filter pack. It will be the best $3 (or $9) you ever spent!

Click here to buy the flatpod on the J&R Web site. 

And here is the direct link to the Op/Tech filter pack on Adorama's Web site.

Click here to buy the Op/Tech Filter Pack on the Adorama Web site.


Op/Tech Filter Pack 
If you can make it out of neoprene Op/Tech has tried it. Carrying filters is another one of those things that can be a pain. Leave them free to rattle around your camera bag and they'll quickly get scratched or worse. Those big filter wallets do a good job or organizing and protecting them but they're bulky and it's difficult to get to the filter you're looking for when working quickly off your hip. When you're traveling light filter packs don't fit very well into small camera bags either. Individual vinyl filter cases are an option but they can only take one size filter and don't offer much in the way of protection.

The Op/Tech filter pack is a quick fix for all of these problems. It's stretchy and easily accommodated 77mm filters. The flap closure keeps the filter securely in the pouch but lets you fish it out quickly without fighting with Velcro or snaps. It's double sided so it can hold different sized filters. Finally the snap hook let me attach it to the outside of a small camera bag when traveling light. That let me fish out filters by feel without digging in the bag.

If there's one drawback to the little dude it was that we had a heck of a time finding one. Most of the big vendors aren't stocking them yet. The exception was Adorama who has them for $8.95. Anything that costs less than ten bucks and makes my life easier when working out in the field makes my "must have" list!  Op/Tech Filter Pack listing at Adorama

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